ORLANDO, Fla. — Get ready for more flavor and innovation in the produce aisle.
Flavorful Brands, a new partnership with Bejo Seeds, LHF Inc. and Marrero Ventures Inc., was formed to market Tasti-Lee tomatoes in the U.S. and Canada, but also to market new products and brands from seeds developed by Bejo, said Chris Lindley, Flavorful Brands CEO.
Bejo owns the rights to Tasti-Lee seeds.
“We don’t grow the Tasti-Lee,” Lindley said. “We do things to make it better,” through marketing and developing complementary products such as fresh-cut diced or sliced Tasti-Lees.
“We bring unique things to the produce industry,” Lindley said.
The company is now pushing the Tasti-Lee into national distribution, he said.
Flavorful Brands is betting on kohlrabi, which it calls “the versatile vegetable,” as the next big thing. It’s not trying to get consumers to buy a bunch of the sturdy, hard-to-cut vegetables, though. Instead, it plans to market a variety of fresh-cut kohlrabi shapes under the brand Veggie Nation, Lindley said.
A typical kohlrabi weighs about 1.5 pounds, whereas the variety Bejo developed weighs about 6, Lindley said, providing a lot more useable product. The company plans to offer fresh-cut kohlrabi noodles, sticks, cubes, croutons (a fine dice that can be used as a salad topping, among other uses), and a carpaccio or tortilla shape, he said.
The vegetable has a mild, refreshing flavor, since it’s about 91% water, but is also very high in vitamin C, Lindley said. It can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways.
“Whatever you can do to a potato, you can do to kohlrabi,” he said.
The company is working to get kohlrabi into schools nationally and is quickly moving into foodservice, hoping to introduce the vegetable to consumers that way.
“Our objective is to become the low-cost supplier of kohlrabi in the U.S. and Canada,” Lindley said.
Other items already on the market from Bejo and Flavorful Brands include baby pointed cabbage and flat-head cabbage.
A new item in the tomato category is Tasti-Wees, the first grape tomato variety to have the crimson gene, which gives them a deep red color internally, high lycopene content, and a longer shelf life, said Jeff Trickett, sales and marketing director for Bejo Seeds. Tasti-Wees should start shipping in late October, he said.
Bejo is also conducting trials with Portuguese kale, a variety that has a milder flavor than typical curly-leaf kale but offers the same nutrient content and can produce a lot of juice, Trickett said.
Another item in development is the pink Rosa Bella onion, which Bejo has been testing in Canada for two years, Trickett said. The companies plan to tie it to cause marketing supporting breast cancer research.
The French Bistro Gourmet Cooking Onion is another new product in the onion category. It has a unique shape and can be used like shallots, Trickett said. It’s about to start a retail test in Southern California, he said.